WORKS: Chaconne; Suite ‘Den Luciferiske’; Three Piano Pieces; Five Piano Pieces; Humoreske-bagateller
PERFORMER: Leif Ove Andsnes (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: VC 5 45129 2 DDD
The young Norwegian Leif Ove Andsnes is one of the major talents of his generation of pianists and his gifts of clarity, intelligence and strong character are superbly suited to this challenging and rewarding music.
Nielsen’s piano music has never had much currency in the concert hall, despite its individuality of musical and harmonic ‘voice’. It well deserves this excellent recording. From the very opening of the Chaconne, inspired by Bach’s D minor Chaconne from the Second Partita for solo violin, it is clear that this is music of a serious, uncompromising nature; as the piece progresses, its contrapuntal intricacy, beautifully voiced by Andsnes, increases, as does its originality.
Probably the most striking work on the disc is the ‘Lucifer’ Suite – not, apparently, Lucifer the devil, but the Lucifer of Greek mythology, the bringer of light in the form of the morning star (though there is some distinctly devilish piano writing within its six movements).
The strength of personality evident in both music and performance will reward repeated listening and despite my terms ‘strong’ and ‘uncompromising’, these works are in no way unappealing. A recording, complete with top-class sound quality, to chew over and benefit from. Jessica Duchen